Clean the Clutter, Clear the Mind

by Alyce Eyster

Guys, this is me after a bathroom re-org. →You may not be able to tell but I am TOTALLY TRANSFORMED. 😉 As we continue our theme of Spring cleaning, today Alyce Eyster tackles clutter. ♥Elaine

Picture a closet. At eye level clothes hang jammed together, open drawers reveal disheveled chaos and a weak folding effort, a lone shelf displays  a smattering of bracelets, receipts, coins, mints and retail clothing tags. Shoes play hide and seek on the floor littered with towels and dry cleaning debris, the laundry basket overflowing. I close the door and launch my boat down the river of denial.

“A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming,” asserts Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That’s bold and I am intrigued.  

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Kondo’s book is all the rage. And she’s got a point. There is something therapeutic about purging the clutter, donating, organizing, and finding a home for “stuff.” I feel GREAT after cleaning my closet. I get a lift, an energy boost and I can see clearly now!  Organize the space and life falls into place. Yes!

But how does one get there? The experts weigh in.

Kondo doesn’t mess around when it comes to “stuff.” She asks of your things, “Does it spark joy?” If yes, keep it. If not, get rid of it. And it makes sense. Don’t you want to be surrounded by beautiful things that you love? Of course. Is it easy? No. Is her philosophy realistic? Not always.

Peter Walsh is an author that has appeared on Oprah and reality TV. He’s hosted 31 day challenges where he instructs folks to organize one space each day. I like this idea. He starts small, “Pick one drawer and clean it out.” This is so do-able, and not overwhelming.  To see it in action, check out Tell It to Your Neighbor blogger Erica Smith’s  Instagram feed, where she’s got helpful tips and information at #31Days2GetOrganized and #TheArtofDecluttering.

For more insight into clutter-clearing,  I sat down with professional organizer Elizabeth Seidensticker who runs O.N.E. Consulting – Order N Everything. Years in commercial real estate as a property manager of multiple buildings in multiple cities taught her the value of organization and the philosophy that everything has its place to which it needs to be returned. “I was forced to be organized and stay organized,” she admits. And she learned that keeping it simple is the best approach.

I asked Elizabeth her take on the Marie Kondo method. She likes Kondo’s basic principal and feels the book is a good guide for organizing. “I’ve advised my clients for years to keep only what they love,” she says. She acknowledges the emotional attachment people have to objects like gifts they may not love, but keep anyway. “Remember that the joy is in the giving and receiving of the gift, not in the storing of the gift,” she explains. Ahh, so wise!

As for clutter-clearing tips, here’s what Elizabeth recommends:

  • When you are working on a project in the home (like hanging pictures), get out everything you need for that project. When you are done with the project, put everything away, like right away.
  • Start organizing in an area that is relatively emotion-free, like the laundry room, rather than the room or area that might house more sentimental things.
  • Purge first, then organize.
  • Elizabeth recommends Sterilite® boxes for storage and checkbook boxes for organizing within drawers. (Marie Kondo suggests shoe boxes.) Bottom line is don’t spend a lot of money on a storage solution that will be hidden in a drawer.
  • For organizing and storage products her favorite retailers are Target, followed by Container Store and Ikea.
  • As for getting kids to stay organized, she recommends proper guidance and modeling of organization skills by mom and dad. 😉

The best part of getting organized? Those gently used items may no longer spark joy in you, but can ignite it in others, as I witnessed first hand as a volunteer stylist at Dress for Success. Donating clothes and items allows them to be re-used by folks who really need them, and at DFS it was amazing to see women light up in beautiful, carefully styled work ensembles.

In Houston, The Women’s Home accepts donations of women’s and men’s clothing, shoes, accessories and home furnishings. In Houston and nationwide, Dress for Success takes women’s work attire, shoes and accessories. And Goodwill receives clothing, children’s toys, housewares and more. Getting my house in order feels fantastic because I’ve purged, organized and mentally have a clean slate. The icing on the cake is helping others in the process.

For more information:
Elizabeth Seidensticker
O.N.E. Consulting – Order N Everything

Alyce Eyster is a marketing communications consultant and freelance writer/editor.

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